Business networking for CFO is one of the most effective marketing and prospecting method you can use to grow your business. But if done incorrectly, it can be harmful to your business.
Business networking is a lot more than giving out business cards. It is about building trust. For CFO the networking is a lot more than meeting people. It is about connecting with the right people.
Business networking is a lot more than collecting phone numbers. It is about staying in touch, about listening, addressing needs and looking for opportunities all at the same time.
Executive Consulting - What Needs To Be Done?
It is how as a CFO we approach relevant business networking sessions that makes it work for us. Networking is about being authentic and genuine, building relationships and trust, and helping others. Although increased sales is the end goal, don’t participate in business networking to sell.
Build relationships and sales will follow naturally. People have to trust you before they’ll do business with you or refer you. Relationship capital is an immensely valuable part of business success. Put your energy, intention and attention on business networking.
When Henrik Balmer became the production manager and a board member of a newly bought-out cosmetics firm, improving his network was the last thing on his mind. The main problem he faced was time: Where would he find the hours to guide his team through a major upgrade of the production process and then think about strategic issues like expanding the business? The only way he could carve out time and still get home to his family at a decent hour was to lock himself—literally—in his office. Meanwhile, there were day-to-day issues to resolve, like a recurring conflict with his sales director over custom orders that compromised production efficiency.
Networking, which Henrik defined as the unpleasant task of trading favors with strangers, was a luxury he could not afford. But when a new acquisition was presented at a board meeting without his input, he abruptly realized he was out of the loop—not just inside the company, but outside, too—at a moment when his future in the company was at stake.
Henrik’s case is not unusual. Over the past two years, we have been following a cohort of 30 managers making their way through what we call the leadership transition, an inflection point in their careers that challenges them to rethink both themselves and their roles. In the process, we’ve found that networking—creating a fabric of personal contacts who will provide support, feedback, insight, resources, and information—is simultaneously one of the most self-evident and one of the most dreaded developmental challenges that aspiring leaders must address.
Their discomfort is understandable. Typically, managers rise through the ranks by dint of a strong command of the technical elements of their jobs and a nose-to-the-grindstone focus on accomplishing their teams’ objectives. When challenged to move beyond their functional specialties and address strategic issues facing the overall business, many managers do not immediately grasp that this will involve relational—not analytical—tasks. Nor do they easily understand that exchanges and interactions with a diverse array of current and potential stakeholders are not distractions from their “real work” but are actually at the heart of their new leadership roles.
Like Henrik (whose identity we’ve disguised, along with all the other managers we describe here), a majority of the managers we work with say that they find networking insincere or manipulative—at best, an elegant way of using people. Not surprisingly, for every manager who instinctively constructs and maintains a useful network, we see several who struggle to overcome this innate resistance. Yet the alternative to networking is to fail—either in reaching for a leadership position or in succeeding at it.
Watching our emerging leaders approach this daunting task, we discovered that three distinct but interdependent forms of networking—operational, personal, and strategic—played a vital role in their transitions. The first helped them manage current internal responsibilities, the second boosted their personal development, and the third opened their eyes to new business directions and the stakeholders they would need to enlist. While our managers differed in how well they pursued operational and personal networking, we discovered that almost all of them underutilized strategic networking. In this article, we describe key features of each networking form (summarized in the exhibit “The Three Forms of Networking”) and, using our managers’ experiences, explain how a three-pronged networking strategy can become part and parcel of a new leader’s development plan.
Identify which networking events you should attend. Pick groups that’ll help you achieve your goals. Find venues that make sense for your business. When you register for an event, schedule it like a meeting.
Determine how often you should be networking. How many times in a week, month, or quarter? Visit as many groups as possible.
Attend events with a plan and always try to learn something new. Prepare yourself for the event. Develop open-ended questions to ignite a conversation. Bring business cards but don’t give your business card to everyone you meet. Give cards to those who ask you for it. Try to sit with strangers. Don’t forget to mingle.
Benefits Of Business Networking
Keep track of people you meet. Keep in touch with them and deepen your emotional connection. Establish a mutual beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients/ customers. Meet with the group members individually so you get to know them better and try to build quality connections. Consider other group members as resources. focus on the group; listen and think about how you can help them. Focus on giving. Build trust within the group.
Business consulting management is in the practice of assisting companies enhance their efficiency and overall performance. The procedure requires examining the existing issues within the organization and developing plans for performance improvement. There are many reasons companies need the services of management consultants. Some of these include getting third party observation and access to specific skills set and expertise. Management consultants have specific training to handle different organizational issues.
Instead of stressing over different problems in your company, you can have someone more knowledgeable look at it. Third parties also have an easier time spotting problems in organizations. Being part of a company makes it hard to see problems at once. You are often used to how things work and any faults or issues would be difficult unless something completely wrong happens. A view from the outside can easily spot the right and wrong operations.
The effectiveness of third party professional services encouraged a surge of providers offering business consulting solutions. Consulting firms represent the idea of "best practices." Adhering to best practices allows organizations to stay afloat amidst the competition. People view organizations following best practices in a positive light.
Nonetheless, transfer or adoption of these practices is difficult to transfer all at once. Organizations have different adaptive abilities. Some can follow practices faster and more efficiently while others need some time. This is where business consulting comes in. An expert can guide you on what to do for the company to carry out best practices. Transferability of efficient procedures relies on the nature of business and operational scheme. Consultancies provide assistance in translating recommended procedures according to the nature of the company.
Services under management consulting include change management support, technology implementation, and creation of coaching skills, operational development, and creation of strategy. Business consultants can provide frameworks to work on your performance improvement. They also know different methodologies to figure out problems in your company. Make sure to find someone keen on identifying problems first. You cannot start developing and improving your company if you do not know what is wrong.
Problem identification allows you to develop corresponding strategies. You can properly align methods to address the issues. This also guides what tasks should be there. There are categories under business consultation attempting to solve specific organizational issues. Identify your specific niche and see what consultation services you need.
Find a good consultation provider to make sure you improve your organization. You should work with a proficient and experience consultant. The quality of your consultant determines how much improvement you can make. Search the internet for possible contractors. It is a good source of companies and client feedback. See which providers companies are talking about. Client feedback and ratings offer great information when choosing companies to work with.
Most clients are eager to discuss their experience on providers. Select those with high ratings and narrow choices to three or five. Ask for their list of business plan tools. Verify their costs. You should find someone within your budget. There is no point in working with someone you cannot afford.
Do not expect to receive benefits right away. Do volunteering work for network groups to stay visible and give back. As a responsible CFO you must show up regularly and on time, show others how you deal with business meetings and associates. Give quality referrals and leads. If someone gives you a referral, follow up on it in a timely manner. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. Take a referral seriously.
Don’t spam on social networks. Use the platforms designed for CFO to build relationships and expand your network.
Limit self-promotion. Don’t sell. Build relationships. Be as helpful as you can. Share relevant information with others as people love to learn new things. Participate in discussions. Let others know you’re real. Be approachable. Treat your online connections just as valuable as your offline connections.